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Don't get wrung out: The best budget dryers

By Kara Reinhardt, Cheapism.comOnce relegated to basements and other out-of-sight spots, washers and dryers now come fit for display, with front-loading designs, jewel-tone casing, and porthole-style doors. For consumers who don’t want to pay a premium, brands including GE, Kenmore, and Maytag still make standard, non-stackable dryers with square doors. These machines may not come in colors like
This electric dryer from Maytag sells for less than $500.
This electric dryer from Maytag sells for less than $500.Today

By Kara Reinhardt, Cheapism.com

Once relegated to basements and other out-of-sight spots, washers and dryers now come fit for display, with front-loading designs, jewel-tone casing, and porthole-style doors. For consumers who don’t want to pay a premium, brands including GE, Kenmore, and Maytag still make standard, non-stackable dryers with square doors. These machines may not come in colors like Wild Cherry Red or Tuscan Chestnut, but they get clothes dry and cost less than $500.

Dryers come in two basic types: gas and electric. Electric dryers are by far the most common and cost up to $150 less. However, consumers with gas hookups should see enough long-term energy savings from a gas-powered dryer to offset the higher price. (Of course, it depends on how many loads you do and how long the dryer lasts. It costs 15 to 20 cents to dry an average load of laundry in a gas dryer, according to the California Energy Commission, compared with 30 to 40 cents with an electric dryer.)

Online reviews often emphasize capacity, which measures from about 6 to 7.5 cubic feet for a full-size dryer. Any machine in this range has plenty of room for a full load of clothes. Make a point of choosing a model with greater capacity only if you often launder large items such as comforters.

Inexpensive dryers feature fewer cycles than pricey models, but they offer at least some basic settings and auto-dry options, which set the machine to turn off when it senses clothes are dry. In the budget sector, these automatic settings typically work by gauging the temperature of the exhaust air. A more accurate method is a moisture sensor, which can be tough to come by in a low-cost model.

One final thing to note is the location of the lint trap, which can be found either on top of the machine or at the front of the drum, inside the door. This may seem inconsequential, but some consumers who have posted reviews online strongly prefer one or the other, declaring it easier to clean. Remember to clean both the lint trap and the dryer duct for the sake of fire safety and efficiency. These simple tasks can help keep your energy costs down.

Below are Cheapism’s top picks for affordable dryers.

  • The electric Maytag Centennial MEDC300XW (starting at $448) boasts a 7-cubic-foot capacity, 10 cycles, and a moisture sensor. This dryer impresses experts and consumers with the number of features it offers for the money, including an end-of-cycle buzzer and an interior light. An equivalent gas model, the Maytag Centennial MGDC300XW, is also available, starting at $552. (Where to buy)
  • The Admiral AED4475TQ (starting at $359) is an electric dryer exclusive to Home Depot. It offers 6.5 cubic feet of capacity, five cycles, and three temperature options. Users posting reviews praise its dependable drying performance. A gas-powered version, the Admiral AGD4475TQ, starts at $499. (Where to buy)
  • The Amana NED4500VQ electric dryer (starting at $359) comes with seven automatic cycles, three temperature settings, and an end-of-cycle buzzer. Consumers note how quickly it dries their clothes and praise the capacity of the 6.5-cubic-foot drum. The gas-powered Amana NGD4500VQ starts at $397. (Where to buy)
  • The GE GTDX100EMWW (starting at $386) is a 6-cubic-foot electric dryer with three drying cycles and three temperature settings. This is the only dryer on our list with a lint trap located at the front, rather than on top of the machine. Consumers posting reviews appreciate its reliable performance and interior light. Those with gas hookups can opt for the GE GTDX100GMWW, starting at $450. (Where to buy)

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